On Location: Feminist Zine Fest

Monday, February 27, 2012

I didn't want to get out of bed in the morning. I read part of my poetry assignment from the confines of a comforter cave, waiting for the last possible moment before I had to rise, dress myself, and get on the train to the Feminist Zine Fest. It wasn't out of lack of excitement, oh no - rather, I had just arrived back from a psychology conference in DC the night before and I was unwilling to give up the creature comforts of my bed to go anywhere.

But I'm so glad I did.

When I arrived at the Feminist Zine Fest at Brooklyn Commons an hour or so later, the place was just starting to fill in. I set up my zines (including the new one that I put out just in time for the fest, Hairstory - pictured above!) on a table near the door, next to my boss Jenna and her plethora of zine library-related works. My roommate made the rounds to the different tables as I munched on a granola bar, waiting for people to arrive.

And arrive they did - after just a half hour, the place was buzzing with alternative press addicts, all of them displaying amazing fashion sense and a love for zines. By 2pm, they were bottlenecking near the door and there was great excitement as the first zine reading started, featuring the editors and a contributor (Jenna Freedman, my zine library boss extraordinaire!) of a new book on zines in libraries.

Throughout the day, I met all the different zinesters that I knew way too much about due to having read their zines in our library collection. I would see them, my eyes would get wide, and I would shyly say that I loved their work. Also, completely out of the blue, I met Cynosure, the wonderful blogger that I have been reading for the past year. There were Bluestockings employees right across from us and chill people doing artwork and all types of representation. Every few minutes, I would gasp, fangirl-like, at something new and wonderful that came into my view. In a perfect world, I could keep connected with all the people I saw and met that day.

How many people got their hands on my zines, you ask? I started with somewhere around 90 and ended up with just 8 little zines coming home with me that afternoon. Let's call it like it is: an amazing success! I am so glad to have been able to be part of it.

Interested in other zine-related things I've done? Check out the tutorial How to Make a Micro-Mini Zine and the releases of my other zines on Archive.org.

On Location: Active Minds Conference

Ding-dong! We are now arriving at Union Station, Washington DC. That was my wake-up call en route to the psychology research conference I presented at last Friday. I jerked awake, covered by my giant teal coat, and started fumbling for my bags on the seat beside me, both excited and nervous to be embarking on a completely new experience.

Last Friday, I attended the Active Minds Emerging Scholars Conference to present my preliminary research for a project that I'll be doing until June about college-aged Asian American women and their attitudes towards mental health and counseling. I'm excited to note that there is a blogging component to my project, so all you readers out there will be the first to know as I go further into my work. But for now, I'd like to talk about the conference itself.

On Location: Active Minds Conference & Feminist Zine Fest

Thursday, February 23, 2012

This weekend, I will be all over the place.

First, I am going to the Active Minds conference to present my preliminary research on Asian American women in college and their attitudes towards mental health and counseling. The conference is going to be in DC, so I'll be getting up very early and coming back very late from said journey, but it will be a great experience. A full recap (and brief on my research) will come next week!

Then Saturday, I will be tabling with the Barnard Zine Library at the Feminist Zine Fest in Brooklyn! Come say hi and get a zine from me, if you so desire (and are in the NYC area).

Anyway, on that note, regular blogging will resume Monday, when all these things are through. Enjoy your weekend!

Taking Stock, Talking Shop (with Myself)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Today is a day of questions. I think that regeneration requires that you ask a bunch of questions - of yourself, of others, of the universe. I've written about the loss of my uncle and my favorite high school teacher in the past month, and it has gotten me to turn inward. First as part of a grieving process, and then as a process of rebirth and regeneration. So, today, I want to share some questions that I've been thinking about and that I think are instructive for everyday life. Importantly, major life events don't necessarily need to prompt reflective thought, so take these down even if all you're doing today is watching daytime television and potentially going to work!

How do I look at the world - as a narrative or a sequence of events?

What inspires me?

What situations make me feel the most secure/happy/solid? What situations feel comfortable, but not necessarily amazing? What situations absolutely suck?

Who or what adds value and meaning to my life? (the secret to this one is to break it down by looking at situations in which you feel the most content/satisfied and working backwards from there)

What do I actively want to pursue? What do I want to let fall away? How do I go about it?

Once you've started ruminating a little bit, check out some lessons on how to get there and make it happen!

Personal Artifacts

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I haven't been writing much for this blog in the past week. I've been making grocery lists and plans to write and essays on women writers in the early modern period and notes on hormones. I've been using my words in other contexts - writing and talking out feelings in order to heal. But I haven't posted much here because all of that background writing is the preamble, the extraneous detail before the heart of the material emerges.

I often hate that stage of writing - it's not a draft, it's somewhere before the draft even starts. It's the notes and the ideas floating about that must get captured in some mundane tasks. It makes me sane, but not inspired. In the good times, it feels less necessary. In the bad, however, it's all that there is.

I wanted to address the writing that we do in our everyday lives that feels like nothing more than making endless to-do lists. It's still a form of writing and a form of expression, oddly enough, and it will be the stuff that tells historians most about these eras once they have passed. In some ways, being a historian of your own life is the best way to gain material for creative projects or to heal yourself. I've been looking back on some of the writing I did in high school and the memories just come flooding back. It's not always fun, but it's interesting to look at your own lists and wonder "what in the heck did I need that for?" until you finally stumble upon an answer.

I recommend looking back at old journals and files whenever you're confused on where to start something. Whether that "something" is an art project or a reflection on how to better your life outlook, these are the things that get overlooked, but can often be the most indicative of inspiration.

At the very least, they can give you a good laugh.

Check out some other reflections on perspective.

Reminder: Love Yourself Today!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day! Take today to love, thank, and give back to yourself and all the people who've supported you along the way. Here's what I'll be doing:

- Posting a silly Facebook status about love
- Drinking tea
- Taking a really intense break
- Contacting several of my close friends and saying "You Rock!" (un-ironically)
- Eating chocolate (courtesy of my father)
- Reading some inspirational poetry from Pablo Neruda and some life advice from Anne Lamott
- Going to Well Woman Game Night!

What about you?

Jessica Goldstein: In Memoriam

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Though it may be a little gratuitous, with the recent passing of my esteemed mentor and teacher, Jessica Goldstein, I have been thinking a lot about high school and some of those lost memories. So, here's a short introspective.

High school sometimes seems like a blur - ugly smells from the cafeteria, consistently awkward schedule changes, and the occasional detention with Ms. Lee (which didn't really seem like a punishment). I remember that many classes made me scream; even if I was with friends, even if I liked the teacher, even if I thought the material was easy. Theater class, however, was not like that. I never dreaded going into that strange octagonal room that Goldstein fondly named her "bat cave." It had a special brand of crazy that I knew how to handle.

I was a quiet girl who didn't speak up in French class and who wore baggy black clothing outside of theater class. There I was loud. In charge. Encouraged to take risks, even if that meant doing something as wacky as putting a plastic chicken on my head and running about as a spirit from the dead. For all the years that I did high school theater, Goldstein was the woman who gave us a rueful "you kids" smile and let us press on.

A lot of us flocked to theater as an elective that was easy or we knew how to do; there was the standard motley crew of acting kids and techies, overconfident jocks, and nerdy people who needed another class to add on. Some of us wrote papers for the International Baccalaureate and some of us were goofballs that never did the reading. Sometimes the same kid did both. But as much as we would skip class or fight with the teacher, when a sub came in, we were all on the same side. We knew that they had no power over us - and we had a mighty loyalty to Goldstein. Which is not to say that she didn't get played sometimes, but there was definitely an air of respect for her that was not otherwise present. Some of us, I among them, adored her to the fighting end even when she got on our nerves with inconsistencies.

She refused to conform with school policies that would stifle us and administration that would snark at us for being unchaperoned. She let us have run of the theater with our creative expression, let us handle the backstage, taught us to value or waste our time according to our own goals. While these privileges were used and abused, they were always there, a show of measurable respect and honor that she had for us as young adults just as we had respect for her as a wacky adult that gave us more of herself than I ever imagined.

I honestly thought that Goldstein would live forever.

She graduated with my class of 2009, moving back to NY during that summer. While there were cries of "thank God!" and the theater got on a more traditional 2-plays-a-year track, I was glad not to have to be a part of Interlake theater without Goldstein. I can't imagine it would have been much fun. In my freshman year of college, Goldstein sat with me on the Columbia steps and told me how to love the city was to get away from it once in a while and that I could visit her when I needed that break. Now I'll never get the chance.

I know it seems small, to love a high school teacher. After all, aren't we individuals and shouldn't we leave the past to the past? But Goldstein was more than just a teacher for me. I attribute so much of my ability to stand up for myself and to voice my opinions to her guidance. She encouraged me to write, to speak, and most importantly to not be afraid. She herself was never afraid to be silly, to feel her emotions, and to bring her full self into our lives. I will never forget it.

Interlake theater kids and anyone else who wants to share a memory of Goldstein, please send me a message or comment here. I want to cultivate the memories that we have of her in a safe place.

Remembering Jessica Goldstein

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"We are not idealized wild things. We are imperfect mortal beings, aware of that mortality even as we push it away, failed by our very complication, so wired that when we mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves. As we were. As we are no longer. As we will one day not be at all.” ― Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

This quote was with me all day yesterday, after I learned that my acting teacher in high school, Jessica Goldstein had passed away from brain cancer early that morning. She had been a great friend and mentor to me - one of those teachers that you talk about in your memoirs as someone who touched your life and made you really believe in yourself. One of those mythical people who, while they were all-too-human, still came through for you in every possible way and encouraged you to be the best person you could be.

Many of my high school memories are peppered with memories of Goldstein. I remember her in her amazing laugh. I remember her telling us stories about Nepal and Russia and New York - places we suburban kids could only dream were much better than the city we'd grown up in. She was accomplished in so many ways, and yet she never condescended to us. She treated us like mini-adults and gave us much more sway than many of our other teachers. She fought for us, especially when we wanted to do something radical.

She allowed me to put on one of my most glowing accomplishments: a stage-adapted version of Speak, a novel by Laurie Halse Anderson about rape and its affect on a high school girl's psyche. She pushed me to be courageous, to press hard, and to speak with my loudest and clearest voice.

I will miss her dearly.

 Lovely Goldstein, smiling amidst all our crazy high school antics.

Caught My Eye: CultureSHOCK Performers

Friday, February 3, 2012

Here are just some examples of the amazing CultureSHOCK performers and (as promised) some of my favorite Asian Americans on Youtube. Enjoy!

Hari Kondabolu

Kelly Tsai

Teach Yourself! 7 Lessons in Self-Education

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My English advisor often tells me that you're only going to learn what you teach yourself - formalized lesson plans and reading lists are great and all, but if you're not engaging with the material on your own, it won't really stick. And I think that's very important in relation to the articles I've written this week on Asian Americans; that material rarely gets taught in the classroom, but is more often something that we have to approach on our own. So, today I want to generalize the process of learning something new. Whether that's learning about the social history of Asian Americans in the US or learning how to roller skate or learning a new language, here are 7 tips to getting yourself on the road to learn.

"What Type of Asian Are You?" (And Other Problems)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

This is part three in a series of posts on Asian Americans, inspired by and in concert with a charity event being put on by the Columbia student group, Asian American Alliance. Click here to read the first and second posts in the series: "Who is an Asian American?" and "'Will All The Asian Americans Please Stand Up?': The Politics of Self-Identification" and make sure to join in the conversation!

So, we've found our Asian Americans. They are on board to identify as people that are politically and culturally distinct, but who want to organize and represent themselves as a group. Where do we go from here?

Take a moment, first, to envision who you view as an "Asian American" based on just the term alone. What does this person look and sound like? Where are they located? What type of job are they doing?